MACHINA II / The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music (Agnew)
Virgin Records was unwilling to release MACHINA II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music so close to the first (and commercially unsuccessful) MACHINA. As is evident by the title, the band was fed up with Virgin. As a final farewell, and as a snub to the unsupportive label, it was released independently. Only 25 total copies were made. The vinyls were shipped via FedEx to several heavily active fans in the online community, with instructions to immediately redistribute it among the fans. Originally, the songs were intended to be the second disc of a double album instead of two separate releases. Virgin declined a double album from the band as the previous Pumpkins album, Adore, had not sold well.
Though not as well known among Pumpkins fans as the band's commercial releases, MACHINA II perhaps enjoys greater popularity among die-hard fans than its sister album, MACHINA. Its underground popularity can most likely be attributed to its hard, raw sound and rough energy. This sound was further defined by the manner of the album's release: the tracks were sourced from hand-cut vinyl records and then uploaded to the internet. The end result was a collection of heavy rock songs with a very raw, "lo-fi" sound intentionally characterized by pops, scratches, and other distortions. For fans left unsatisfied by the muted atmospherics of Adore and the sometimes over-processed and obtuse first MACHINA, MACHINA II was a welcome return to the band's hard rock roots.
The Pumpkins performed a track from the album ("Cash Car Star") on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, which also ended up being the band's final television appearance. The performance was a rarity as "Cash Car Star" was not a single in any way, and MACHINA II was unavailable for purchase. (Leno even held up an actual vinyl hard copy of the album in true talk show performance tradition, with the comment "You can download it on the internet") The Pumpkins' Rotten Apples (Greatest Hits) 2001 release contains the MACHINA II track "Real Love." Two MACHINA II b-sides, "Lucky 13" and "Slow Dawn," were included on Judas 0 (which was packaged with some Greatest Hits pressings).
On August 5, 2005 the Q101 copy (#19) was put up for sale on eBay. The seller decided to end the auction four days early when the bidding had reached $10,000 from a bidder in France. This bidder has since disclosed that there was a mutual agreement after the auction was ended to cancel the sale transaction. It remains to be seen if this copy (or any other) will go up for sale again publicly in the near future, but the episode suggests that an original vinyl copy could fetch a five-figure sum.This CD release of this album was made by Q101, which was sourced from their vinyl copy. There are NO official CD releases.
Eric Agnew used to run the Luna Page http://web.archive.org/web/19961226001115/www.cae.wisc.edu/~agnew/sp/luna.html , one of the first websites for Smashing Pumpkins fans. As one of the lucky few who got a copy of the vinyl he quickly made a digital version and made cd-r copies for his friends. This was back in 2000 when internet pipes were small and people only shared 128mp3's online. When "better sounding" rips came out many fans had upgradeitis and discarded the Agnew rip. In my opinion none of the later rips ever brought back the same exciting feeling that this rip contained. It was faster, higher pitched, more aggressive; perfectly adding to the production qualities that were in Machina II.
Finally in 2009 one of Erics lucky friends had the decency to make a lossless rip of one of those original cds. And Here it IS!
info From Eric:
This was my ultra-hi-fi setup :P"
unknown stylus cartridge (replaced in late 90s for ~$20, IIRC, & barely used) >
Sony PS-LX150H turntable >
Sony LBT-D159 stereo (RCA in) >
Sony PCM-M1 DAT (line in)
This was a "get it out there, now" release. I didn't have the greatest equipment-
the turntable (which was black, btw :P") had 2 speeds (33-1/3 & 45) w/ no fine adjustment (that I know of)-
but I figured someone else would release a better one eventually anyway.
- Eric Agnew
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